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Court Upholds Police Traffic Stop

People v Simmons, COA No. 320216 (unpublished)


Search & seizure; Motion to suppress evidence; Whether the police had a “reasonably articulable suspicion” to conduct an investigatory stop; People v. Beuschlein; Terry v. Ohio; People v. Champion; People v. LoCicero; Distinguishing Reid v. Georgia; United States v. Sokolow; United States v. Cortez


Holding that under the totality of the circumstances, the police had a reasonably articulable suspicion to conduct a brief investigatory stop, the court concluded that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the cocaine found in his pocket. He was convicted of possession with intent to deliver 450 to 999 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver 50 to 449 grams of cocaine. The prosecution argued that “three specific facts gave rise to a reasonable suspicion that defendant was driving a stolen vehicle: (1) the vehicle matched the description of a vehicle that had been stolen in Detroit recently, (2) this vehicle had no lienholder although it was a $60,000 vehicle and was less than a year old, and (3) the vehicle was titled out of Ohio—which was consistent with the high incidence of ‘re-tagging’ stolen vehicles.” Defendant, relying on Reid, contended that “these factors were not ‘sufficiently specific enough to justify’ the Terry stop.” The court concluded that more facts were present in this case “to suggest criminal activity than in Reid. In Reid, the prosecution was relying on the fact that the defendant fit the general description of a ‘drug courier profile.’” The police here “were relying on multiple, specific factors that were present in an ongoing car theft investigation. A similar vehicle had been stolen in the recent past and factors that had been present in hundreds” of other similar vehicle thefts, “namely that the new, expensive vehicle had no lienholder and was titled out of Ohio, were present with the vehicle defendant was driving. Given the pattern of luxury vehicles being stolen in Michigan, retagged with a false VIN, and titled out of Ohio, the officers were reasonable in their suspicion that the vehicle may have been stolen.”



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